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NCAA tourney draws high TV ratings in Dayton

CBS-TV drew its highest rating for an NCAA championship game in 19 years when Louisville beat Michigan on Monday, and local basketball fans were a big part of those robust viewership numbers.

The Dayton market drew a 24.0 rating, which was the sixth-highest figure in the nation. That means 24 percent of all homes in the area watched the game, according to Nielsen tabulations.

Of television sets in use, 36 percent were tuned into the title clash. That works out to 119,600 households and blew away prime-time competition from “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Voice” and other offerings.

Louisville (no surprise) was the top-rated city with a 54.0 rating, while Detroit (ditto) was second at 33.5. Columbus was third (26.4), followed by Indianapolis (25.1) and Cincinnati (24.7). Unlike Dayton, all of those cities had hometown teams (or one nearby) in the tournament.

For the NCAA tourney overall, which was broadcast on CBS and cable networks TBS, TNT and truTV, Dayton was the No. 5 market with a 15.8 rating, well above the national average of 7.2.

That’s a remarkable number given how fragmented audiences have become with hundreds of cable channels and the fact that a lot of potential TV eyeballs were at UD Arena for 10 sold-out NCAA tourney games over a six-day period.

“It’s obvious that college basketball, University of Dayton basketball and the NCAA tournament mean a great deal to our fans in the Dayton area,” UD Athletic Director Tim Wabler said.

“And this is not a one-time thing. … College basketball is a big deal in Dayton, Ohio.”

Dayton was tied for the sixth-highest-rated market for the 2012 NCAA tourney with a 14.8 rating. And in ESPN college basketball viewership, Dayton was eighth nationally in 2011-12 with a 2.0 rating.

UD games also are big draws on various TV platforms. The Flyers have had 96 games televised over the last four years, and they’ve drawn an average rating of 6.8.

“Our average television ratings are (more than) three times above the national average for regular-season college basketball games,” Wabler said. “And we’re televising home games as well as away games. I think that says it all. I think the national marketplace is well aware of how important college basketball is here.”

Familiar face: Louisville back-up guard Luke Hancock, who became one of the least likely Final Four MVPs in history, spent his first two college seasons at George Mason and played twice against UD.

He had eight points and five assists as a starter in 2010-11 when the Flyers prevailed at home, 73-67. He had seven points and four turnovers off the bench in UD’s 56-55 road win in 2009-10. Hancock, who transferred after coach Jim Larranaga left for Miami, scored 20 points against Wichita State in the semifinals and 22 against Michigan.

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